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July 19, 2020

Austin Dillon

Fort Worth, Texas

THE MODERATOR: We'll row into our post race press conference with our race winner, Austin Dillon. Thank you for joining us after a quick visit to the care center.
Take us through the final laps. Not only a win but a Playoff spot as well. How did you approach the final laps?
AUSTIN DILLON: I just had to have confidence that in the moment we had a car that had potential. It didn't really run well in traffic. Justin and I both talked about what kind of happened in Kentucky with Cole, the way they ran.
If you can get the track position at some point, you can be fast. You saw when we got out front, we had a hot rod. Got to thank all the partners: Bass Pro Shops, American Ethanol, Dow, Coca‑Cola.
But the call was the win, the call that Justin made. I asked him for something. Our car was fading. I thought Tyler, his car was a little better coming down the stretch. He had kind of caught me, but we had track position on him. I said, Man, I got to have something to finish this race off.
He said, All right, we're taking lefts.
Lefts had freed my car up all day. I was tight. When we put the lefts on, it was the call we needed to go on and win the race.
It came down to just some restarts, not screwing up, making it happen when it counted on those restarts, getting through the gears, timing them. I had some good pushing. My buddy Kurt Busch gave me a good push that first one. Joey Logano was also a lot of help down the stretch.
THE MODERATOR: We'll go straight into questions for Austin.

Q. Did you just need some fluids? How are you doing?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yep, I got a couple IVs in me, feeling great. I felt great once I kind of got in the air‑conditioning. I was kind of wanting to come back out. I gave it all. I left it all out there. At least I can say that. Left it all out on the track.
Yeah, I feel great. The infield care center did a great job of taking care of myself. Kurt Busch, too. Kurt is okay. We're actually flying back together so it worked out okay.

Q. Did you think you'd be able to survive that number of restarts with people having fresher tires behind you?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, you know, I didn't think tires were as big of an advantage, at least my car. Every time we put on four, we really struggled. We were just better on two. I felt like I could keep up with the competition better on two.
The restarts, as far as that went, I knew if I had a good push, I knew I could dictate when everything happened. I had good pushers with Kurt and Joey, like I said. The last one, I timed it perfect. Switched it up where I was in the restart box when I went. It gave me a gap to kind of put dirty air on everyone behind me.

Q. You've won two pretty big races in the past. That was on a superspeedway and fuel mileage. Does this mean any more because you had three restarts to earn it?
AUSTIN DILLON: Hell yeah, it does. We took it from them. That feels good. I've said it to my grandfather. I said, Man, the two races we won were fuel mileage and one was the Daytona 500, it played out. Either way we had to make it happen. So they're both big wins in my career.
This one, once again, we had to make it happen multiple times on older tires. That was pretty cool. Feels great.

Q. Why do you think you don't get the credit you deserve from fans? Do you think you deserve more credit from fans?
AUSTIN DILLON: I don't know. It's okay, man. Sports are sports. You got to have someone you don't like. Maybe it's just my background, where I come from. But I got a lot of people that love me, too. It doesn't bother me at all really. They can either get on the bandwagon and love me... It's okay. It's part of sports. Haters are going to hate sometimes, but we'll be all right.

Q. We heard from your crew chief about the late race call to take two tires. He was very surprised you were the only ones to take two tires. Were you just as surprised to find yourself at the front of the field?
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised. It's a good thing when you see no one in front of you. I saw my teammate. I knew he was on fuel‑only strategy. He had a good car there late like I said.
But I felt like our left sides were going to give us the edge on him. Was able to make it stick on the bottom. That's kind of what pulled it out for us.
What a call by Justin. I mean, he's done a great job all year of putting us in good positions when it comes to track position. All three of my Cup wins are with Justin. Love the guy. I can't thank him enough for everything he's done for me and my family.
He's been putting great products out there. He deals with me. I'm not the easiest individual in the world to deal with. I can get cranky from time to time. It's just because I'm passionate and I'm a grinder. I feel like I can go out there and compete week and week out with these guys.
This was a huge win for our company, RCR, ECR, everybody that supports us. It was really cool.
It was nice to also have the ball in my court, you know what I mean, to dictate the end of the race.

Q. Nobody can take away you've won a couple of major races. When you reference talking to your grandfather about maybe not having earned it in the traditional sense, how much does that weigh on a driver? Were those things that gnawed at you a little bit because of what those races were?
AUSTIN DILLON: You stay patient. You have faith. I have faith. Faith can really take you a long way. I'm not saying there wasn't a lot of ups and downs during that time period. You go through peaks and valleys.
Have you to be able to have a good support system. My wife, my family always believed in me. I couldn't get there without that. You know what I mean? Without the friends and the family, I would definitely have let it weigh on me. I don't know how many races it's been in between. I think somebody said it earlier, it was a pretty big number from Daytona to now.
You just stay diligent. I put a lot of work in during the pandemic to get in good shape. Didn't look like it after the race, but I've been working my tail off in the car. I left it all out there.
But all the work, all the effort, the continued thoughts. You got to think positive, know that it's going to turn around and come your way. I know I can do this. I've done it in the Xfinity Series, Truck Series, won outright in those multiple times. It's the same guys, just more of them.
Those other wins feel just as good as this one, but there's definitely an edge to this win. It feel goods.

Q. You talked about how you nailed it on the last restart. You haven't led much this season. There's no practice. You're not getting track time. Maybe it's been months since you led a restart in a race. How do you hit it and not spin the tires?
AUSTIN DILLON: Kind of like riding a bike. I've been in that situation before. I've been given a lot of shit actually from all my friends about restarts, how I restart for a long time. I don't ever want to let them down.
I had some dang good restarts at Kentucky from, like, eighth. I've always told them, Man, give me something I can drive and I can restart. I definitely made mistakes throughout the past. But I feel like in the right situations, I make it happen.
That was one of those situations where I had to clutch it. I had to make it work. I chose the bottom all three times. My spotter and Justin wanted it the second time. I didn't feel real great about it the second time. It showed because I was a little late. It kind of backed everything up. Joey gave me a good push to get me going, which helped.
That last one I was thinking top, top, the whole last lap. Coming to the green, I said, I'm going to dictate this race from wherever I start. I chose the bottom. I thought our car was turning better than what Reddick was at that point. I chose that bottom. Just changed up, I made a different move than what I had been making on the restart.
I think it kind of threw a curve ball at the guys. That gave me that little bit of jump that I needed to be able to put dirty air on their nose going into turn one.

Q. How are you a different driver and how is RCR a different team going into the Playoffs this year?
AUSTIN DILLON: As much as I hate to say it, I've got a lot of experience now in the Cup Series. For a long time I was looked at as kind of a young gun. I still feel young. The biggest thing is I've had to step up in the role that I'm in.
You bring Tyler in, who has absolutely crushed it from the Xfinity Series with two championships, brought something to push me. I think that's something that everybody needs, is competition. I can't thank him enough for all the competition he's brought to our company. You got to have that.
When I first came in the Cup Series, I thought I was going to have Kevin Harvick as my teammate. He left. Me and Newman started our deal out. Newman was really great for a long time. Daniel was unlucky last year. We didn't have what we needed last year, I feel like. Reddick was on fire.
Bringing him in, it really kind of changed the dynamic this year as far as the competition goes. Got to hand it to my grandfather. He's made some great calls on putting the people in the right places. Even though I've argued with him multiple times on it, I got to give it to him. He does a good job. That's why he's the legend that he is.

Q. This is the first time since 2011 that RCR finished first and second in a Cup race. How much do you think that will mean to the people in Welcome?
AUSTIN DILLON: Huge. Run a family organization back at home, at RCR. It's so awesome. When you cross those railroad tracks, there's a sign when you come in there. I can't wait to get home because I know what it's going to say on that sign: RCR goes 1‑2, and the 3 team brings home a victory at Texas.
That's my favorite thing to do, home to all the hard‑working employees that have believed in me, those people matter the most to me. Our fans are huge, but also our employees that dig in and build these great racecars for us.

Q. You're in the Playoffs now. Tyler is 14 points out. What does he have to do over the next eight races to get in?
AUSTIN DILLON: I already seen a lot more maturity this year out of Tyler than I figured was going to be there, truthfully. As aggressive as he was in the Xfinity Series, I didn't know how he would fare throughout those long races.
He's taken care of his equipment. That's a big part of it. I feel like if he takes care of his equipment, he obviously has enough talent in the cars to do it. It's hard to start in that group from 13 to 24 to get the stage points. That's the hardest point that him and Randall are going to have to focus on moving forward is getting track position at some of these places to give him opportunity.
He can win anywhere he goes. He has that talent in him. I wouldn't be surprised next week at Kansas if both of us have another shot with what we're bringing to the track. We got to do a really good job, like we did today, putting ourselves in situations where we are leading the race and we can take that opportunity to the next level.
I have no doubt that Tyler is going to be a winner in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Q. We've heard from a lot of drivers that it's been a while since they won, they start hearing things, phantom vibrations. Was anything going through your head on those final laps when you had those guys behind you?
AUSTIN DILLON: Only thing going through my head was the damn car was really hot (laughter).
The second to last restart, when that caution came out, I kind of had gotten tight into three. I don't know if it was just because I was giving it all I had there at the end. That caution came out. I'm sure a lot of people were hoping it would go green right there. I think it was good for us. It cooled our tires back down, allowed me to fire it back in there that green‑white‑checkered.
No, I didn't have any of those phantom vibrations. That was a good thing. You definitely start questioning them. The questioning thing is, like, you don't want to give it away by choosing the wrong lane. That was my biggest thing. Don't choose the wrong lane, inside or outside.
At the end, either way you have to make the move on your own. You dictate the start because you're the leader. Doesn't matter top or bottom, I knew what I had to do. I was able to make it happen.

Q. They showed Whitney on TV. Have you talked to her?
AUSTIN DILLON: I FaceTimed her. She was holding Ace. Mother‑in‑law was there. It was just elation. They're super happy, super pumped. Can't wait to get home. Praise the Lord, it meant a lot to our whole family.

Q. Short week heading to Kansas. Since 2016 your results haven't been what you would expect at Kansas. Talk about coming off of this win, the momentum going into that race.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, it's another mile‑and‑a‑half. Our cars have competed well on mile‑and‑a‑half's. Tyler had a pretty good run. It was his first Cup start there last year. Justin was crew chiefing him. We have some data from that run.
We weren't bad in that race. We kind of gave it away in certain areas. We're executing much better this year than what we were last year. Execution is a big part of it. I've studied some of the guys like Brad Keselowski who don't always have the best car but makes it happen when it counts. They constantly are battling for track position even if they don't have the best car.
We're trying to do more of that and put ourselves in more situations, putting yourself up front so you're comfortable running up there, make your own race at the end.

Q. You have had a couple opportunities to race in front of fans in recent weeks. This was the first event in the state of Texas to have fans. What was the moment like for you to be able to interact with fans?
AUSTIN DILLON: Felt really good. I think it would have been awkward without them. That's why I parked it right in front of them and let them smell that smoke, the burnt rubber. Everything I did was for those fans. I think they loved it.
I also gave the flag away to a little kid. He had a Kyle Busch shirt on. I told him he needed to get a new shirt. Hopefully I transferred him over (smiling).

Q. This whole stretch up until the last two weeks, it was the guys top eight in points winning races. You and Cole now have won races. Do you think it's fortuitous timing or something we can see more of?
AUSTIN DILLON: You saw Tyler up there with me at the end. There's another guy in that area of points. A lot of disadvantages when it comes to the stages and points side of it. I also puts you in advantage to take chances when it counts. That's what we did. It worked out for us.
You got to be aggressive in this sport to win races. I've kind of noticed that a lot of the great guys that are doing it. We were aggressive with our call. We maintained our position and won the race.

Q. Your teammate obviously has been one of the sources of inspiration for a lot of people. Strong rookie year. Where do you see his future in this sport?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think he's super talented. I think he's going to be great for RCR for a long time. He's only going to get better I feel like. He's got a lot of potential. He shows it week in and week out. He's not afraid to change lanes.
Definitely pushes me, shows me some things from time to time. I think I can show him every now and then a couple things.

Q. When your former competition on the cusp of the Playoff picture, William Byron and Jimmie Johnson had some problems today, did that change the way you and the 3 changed things up a little bit?
AUSTIN DILLON: We didn't start off real great truthfully our first run. We were bad off, made some adjustments. Never felt like we were out. We've had this saying on our car all year: FIDO, forget it and drive on. It's been good for us. Even when we're struggling, it's FIDO, start over.
It was from a military guy that came and spoke to our company at the beginning of the year. I took that and used it. Even when we're struggling, we kind of never are out of the fight. That was big today because I think with, like, 60 to go, I needed that saying FIDO because I came on the radio and said, We're not good. We had the track position but we couldn't hold it. He gave me better track positions. It was like, All right, I got to make it happen, do what it takes.
THE MODERATOR: Austin, we appreciate you joining us, especially after you made a trip to the care center. Best of luck in Kansas.
AUSTIN DILLON: Love you guys.

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